In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Liang Qichao

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Other Reference Works
  • Family and Friends
  • Liang Qichao and His Contemporaries
  • Intellectual Development
  • Liang Qichao and Japan
  • On “New Citizens” and Education

Chinese Studies Liang Qichao
Limin Bai
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920082-0136


In the transitional period spanning the latter part of the Qing dynasty to the early republican era, Liang Qichao (Liang Ch’i-ch’ao) 梁启超 (b. 1873–d. 1929), perhaps a failed politician, was well known as a Chinese scholar, journalist, philosopher, and reformist. There is no doubt that Liang Qichao was one of the most influential historical figures in 20th-century China, and his voluminous writings were read by almost every educated person in China at the turn of the century. The first complete collection of Liang’s works, published in 1936 by Zhonghua shuju, and the completion of a Chronology of Liang’s life in the same year, marked a dynamic achievement in the field of Liang Qichao studies. From this point up to 1949, few serious research works on Liang Qichao emerged except for Wu Qichang’s吴其昌 Liang Qichao zhuan 梁启超传 (1944), the first intellectual biography of Liang Qichao. However, it remained unfinished as the author died one month after he completed the first volume. From 1949 to the late 1970s the study of Liang Qichao in mainland China was characterized by ideologically fuelled criticism of Liang’s “anti-revolutionary” stance, while in Taiwan more scholarly works emerged to explore various aspects of Liang’s ideas and activities. Works produced by the scholars in Taiwan, along with three English intellectual biographies of Liang Qichao published during the 1950s to the 1970s, marked a new phase of intellectual query into Liang’s life and work in both Chinese and English literature. It was not until the 1980s that the study of Liang Qichao in mainland China flourished and scholars gradually changed their revolutionary tones and adopted a more objective scholarly approach. Thousands of publications in various forms have been published since then and the quality of research is inconsistent. Research themes are largely formed and developed in accordance with the stages of Liang’s life, mainly investigating his ideas and activities around the 1898 Reform; the role of Japan in Liang’s intellectual development; Liang as a politician in the early republican years; and his scholarly work and changes in his ideas after 1918. The existing publications touch upon almost every aspect of his life, his political ideas and activities, and his views on education, historiography, literature, journalism, language and translation, philosophy, Buddhism and national learning, laws and economics. The study of Liang Qichao has become a significant part of scholarship on modern Chinese history.

General Overviews

Zhang 1964 and Zhang 1999 represent breakthroughs in the study of Liang Qichao in Chinese literature, while Levenson 1953 provided the first intellectual biography of Liang Qichao in English literature. Chang 1971 systematically analyzes Liang’s intellectual development between 1890 and 1907; and Huang 1972 explores the complex changes in Liang’s understanding of modern liberalism. Zarrow 2014 narrates Liang’s life and intellectual development with a focus on the evolution of his views on the state and nation. Both Tang 2011 and Xia 2014 are exemplary scholarly works on Liang Qichao and on the study of Liang Qichao in mainland China.

  • Chang, Hao. Liang Ch’i-Ch’ao and Intellectual Transition in China, 1890–1907. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.

    A study on Liang’s intellectual development before and after the 1898 Reform Movement, providing a systematic in-depth analysis of Liang’s reformist concept of the “new citizen.”

  • Huang, Philip C. Liang Chi-ch’ao and Modern Chinese Liberalism. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1972.

    By focusing on Liang’s ethical notion of the new citizen, this book provides new insights into the complexity of Liang’s understanding of liberalism from a perspective of Japan-China cultural exchange.

  • Levenson, Joseph. Liang Ch’i-Ch’ao and the Mind of Modern China. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1953.

    An astute account and analysis of Liang as a contributor to the political history of the latter part of the Qing and early republic era, representing the research on Liang Qichao in the English literature in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • Tang Zhijun汤志钧. Liang Qichao qiren qishi (梁启超其人其事). Beijing: Zhongguo remin daxue chubanshe, 2011.

    A collection of Tang’s essays on Liang Qichao and on the study of Liang Qichao, touching upon almost every aspect of this particular research area. The book reviews in this collection offer critical and insightful comments, which provide practical guidance for the use of research materials in the field of Liang Qichao studies.

  • Xia Xiaohong夏晓虹. Liang Qichao: zai zhengzhi yu xueshu zhijian (梁启超:在政治与学术之间). Beijing: Dongfang chubanshe, 2014.

    A collection of Xia’s thirteen essays in five sections on Liang Qichao published since 2006, most of which are based on recently discovered material recounting various aspects of Liang’s political life and scholarly activities, with a focus on his oscillation between politics and scholarship.

  • Zarrow, Peter. After the Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014.

    Chapter 2 (pp. 56–88), “Liang Qichao and the Citizen State,” provides a concise history of the evolution and development of Liang’s ideas on the “state” and nation. Clearly narrated and well analyzed.

  • Zhang Pengyuan 张朋园 (Chang P’eng-yuan). Liang Qichao yu Qingji geming (梁啟超與清季革命). Taipei: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindiashi yanjiusuo, 1964.

    An original account of Liang’s political ideas and motivation against the sociopolitical backdrop of the period between 1894 and 1911. The book was reprinted three times in Taiwan (1969, 1982, and 1999) and also gained popularity in mainland China where Jilin chuban jituan issued the first Mainland China edition in 2007. In 2013 Shanghai sanlian shudian included it in a series of works by Zhang.

  • Zhang Pengyuan 张朋园 (Chang P’eng-yuan). Liang Qichao yu Minguo zhengzhi (梁啟超與民國政治). Taipei: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindiashi yanjiusuo, 1999.

    A comprehensive study on Liang’s ideas and activities in the political milieu of the early republic government, with careful and detailed source evidence and balanced arguments. Along with Zhang 1964, the book provides a complete biography of Liang Qichao. After its first publication in 1978 by Shihuo chubanshe (Taipei), it was reprinted in both Taiwan and mainland China.

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